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Bible prophecy Book of Revelation Church History hermeneutics The Papacy

Martin Lloyd-Jones on the book of Revelation

Some years ago I abandoned my former belief in the Futurist eschatology that most of the evangelical churches believe today. That was what is called the pre-millennial return of Christ and where the 70th ‘week’ of Daniel is pushed off into the distant future. I believed that as I was first taught that as a babe in Christ. But 35 + years later I really started to doubt it, and by about 2013 I discarded it entirely. Instead I studied the Historical interpretation, which seemed to be much better.

I began to accept the Historical: Continuing interpretation, but have to admit that it has its drawbacks. It needs a detailed knowledge of history for one thing, which the average believer does not have. Some of the key time line seems to not match, especially after Napoleon. (This interpretation is what the SDA church promotes).

I never believed in the alleged secret Rapture (also called the pre-Tribulation Rapture), but even the pre-millennial return of Christ has multiple returns of Christ before the Great White Throne Judgement (of Revelation chapter 20).

Anyway the Futurist doctrine was developed in the 17th century by a Jesuit, Ribera and later another Jesuit, Bellamine. It is obvious that this was an attempt to get the protestant churches eyes off the papacy, since the Reformers believed the papacy was the AntiChrist. After 1830 the teaching was added to by John N Darby, who promoted it into the evangelical churches. Nowadays it is widely believed.

Recently I have been listening to sermons by Dr Martin Lloyd-Jones on the books of Daniel and Revelation. As a result, I have now learned that even the Preterist interpretation–that all prophecy was fulfilled by the close of the 4th century–was also developed by a Jesuit in 1603. You gotta admire the Jesuits’ efforts to overturn the Reformation. I have also learned that there are 3 forms of the Historical interpretation.

  1. Historical: Precis (which the Reformers largely believed) – a summary (not detailed) of events from St John’s time to the present. Hence it does not include all events in detail.
  2. Historical: Continuing — a detailed description of historical events that have happened from Christ to the New Heaven and Earth. This requires almost a continuous timeline from Revelation chap 4 through to chap 22. But many times the descriptions hearken back to what appear to be earlier events. Chapter 12 starts with Christ’s first Advent again.
  3. Historical: Spiritual — a spiritual principles behind the battles and events encountered by Christians through all ages from Christ until the final Judgement, but not that each description in the book of Revelation applies to only one event. Similarly to the 7 churches described in Chapters 2 and 3 applying to many different churches through the ages, also the descriptions in the prophecies could apply to many different agents, battles and events. The spiritual forces, like Satan are clearly identified, which act through many earthly agents.

Dr Martin Lloyd-Jones explains these in the following lectures and gives criticism as he sees it. He promotes Historical: Spiritual as the best interpretation.

In this blog you’ll find many Bible studies that follow the Historical: Continuing interpretation. I still believe a lot of it may be correct but many events could be explained by the same symbolic descriptions in the book of the Revelation. This much better the supports the notion that God gave the final revelations to the Apostle John for the benefit of all believers throughout all ages.

I strongly recommend you take the time to listen to what he teaches. See below.

Categories
Bible prophecy The Papacy the Reformation worldview

Historical or futurist view of biblical prophecy?

The Roman Church’s reply to the Reformation in the 16th/17th centuries included an answer to the prophetic teachings of the Reformers. The Reformers (Luther, Calvin, Zwingle, Knox, Cranmer, Latimer and others) were involved in the translation of the biblical texts from the source Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts into the vernacularof the people in Europe (English, German, etc). This gave them access to the Word of God directly, which up until that point in history was controlled through the Romish Church.2 The very little that the people did receive was corrupted via the Latin Vulgate translation, where many doctrines had been altered from the original such that the Roman Church maintained control over the masses.

The Basilica of Saint Peter - Rome Credit: Tunliweb.no
The Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican, Rome Credit: Tunliweb.no

The Church of Rome responded with their Counter-Reformation3 initiated via the Council of Trent.4,5  The Jesuit order was formed by Ignatius Loyola6 as an organised secret network that would infiltrate the Protestant churches, with the objective to bring about the downfall of the Reformation. Most of Northern Europe, with the exception of most of Ireland, came under the influence of the Protestants. Southern Europe remained Roman Catholic, while Central Europe suffered under the Thirty Years’ War, resulting in massive devastation.7